Top 10 Romantic Comedy Movie Clichés

Updated on September 16, 2019
Rachel M Johnson profile image

Rachel M. Johnson is a lover of all things pop culture. She's been writing about music and entertainment online for over two years.


Romantic comedies have become a beloved film genre (and guilty pleasure) for many moviegoers. Even the best rom-coms are full of clichés, and many poke fun at just how frequently they re-occur. Let's take a look at the top 10 romantic romantic comedy movie clichés.

She's All That.
She's All That. | Source

1. The Epic Movie Makeover

Cliché: Some of the biggest romantic comedies always have the epic movie makeover, where the seemingly "ugly duckling" transforms into a beautiful swan. Usually it always happens to an obviously attractive guy/girl, who's looks are played down until they get a magical makeover that suddenly brings their beauty to light. This usually involves simply removing glasses and taking their hair out of a ponytail (because women can't possibly look good with either style), making this cliché one of the biggest and most recurring tropes of rom-coms.

Popular in: She's All That, Working Girl, Clueless, Miss Congeniality, Love Potion No.9, Never Been Kissed, A Cinderella Story


2. The Ex-Factor

Cliché: A lovelorn character uses another person in order to make their ex jealous, and in the processes they not-so-surprisingly fall for the new person. Countless times these films will always feature a fake significant other, someone who is willing to take on the strange role (usually to get something in return for themselves). What ensues is of course a romance between both parties.

Popular In: Drive Me Crazy, A Lot Like Love, Addicted To Love

Notting Hill.
Notting Hill. | Source

3. High-Powered Career Woman Has Regrets

Cliché: A high-powered, super successful career woman realizes she's exactly where she wants to be professionally, but along the way she completely overlooked her personal life. Many times it focuses on a working girl who needs to find a balance in her life in order to not be all-consumed by work, and in the process of this epiphany she finds her Mr. Right.

Popular In: The Back-Up Plan, Notting Hill, Fever Pitch

When Harry Met Sally.
When Harry Met Sally. | Source

4. Just Friends

Cliché: Ah, it can't get much more stereotypical than the guy and girl who claim to be just friends, only to finally realize the right person has been there all along for them. Usually this plot line involves one of the friends already in a relationship, or pining for someone else and it's not until the end of the movie that they realize their one true love is their best guy or girl friend and was there the whole time.

Popular In: When Harry Met Sally, Made of Honor, Someone Like You, Win a Date With Tad Hamilton!

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. | Source

5. The Secret Hidden Agenda/Bet

Cliché: One character has a secret that they are trying to hide from the other character (usually involving some kind of hidden agenda/bet), and naturally the other one finds out about the secret, resulting in an epic tell-off. This plot is done in many different and colorful ways, but the formula stays the same: someone is hiding something detrimental that causes the relationship to implode and they break up, until they are romantically reunited at the end of the film.

Popular In: She's All That, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Failure to Launch, Hitch

The Wedding Planner.
The Wedding Planner. | Source

6. The Epic Meet-Cute

Cliché: Is a rom-com really a rom-com without an epic, over-the-top and totally perfect meet-cute? These first meet ups are almost always done in a klutzy and silly manner, leading to a romantic love-at-first-sight moment. Though they are indeed a cliché part of Hollywood film making, they without a doubt create some pretty swoon-worthy and memorable scenes.

Popular In: The Wedding Planner, Notting Hill, Annie Hall, (500) Days of Summer, Maid in Manhattan

Failure to Launch.
Failure to Launch. | Source

7. The Reformed Player

Cliché: A handsome and successful guy with a major phobia for serious, committed relationships finally meets "the one", usually a woman who can cure him of his playboy ways. It often features a strong and beautiful leading lady who is Mrs. Right and is able to handle all the guy's relationship panics and neuroses.

Popular In: Failure to Launch, This Means War, That Awkward Moment, What Women Want, Wedding Crashers

Bridget Jones's Diary.
Bridget Jones's Diary. | Source

8. The Frenemies

Cliché: Arguably one of the most common romantic comedy formulas, the "frenemies" plot often centers on two attractive people who share a mutual attraction but refuse to acknowledge their feelings do to outside forces, differing views or opinions. They argue and bicker constantly and never see eye-to-eye, but end up giving in and admitting their true feelings for one another.

Popular In: You've Got Mail, 27 Dresses, What Happens in Vegas, Bridget Jones's Diary, 10 Things I Hate About You

Four Weddings and a Funeral.
Four Weddings and a Funeral. | Source

9. Calling off a Wedding at the Alter

Cliché: When it comes to romantic comedies, any time at all is a totally acceptable time to profess your love to someone--even if it also happens to be their wedding day. Many times the romantic leads express their true feelings for one another with an audience of family and friends, and end up saying see-ya to their future bride or groom in favor of the main character. Whether it's minutes before the ceremony is set to begin, or infamously at the "speak now or forever hold your peace" cue, weddings are apparently a perfect setting for romantic epiphanies and proclamations.

Popular In: The Wedding Planner, Sweet Home Alabama, Wedding Crashers, Bride Wars, 27 Dresses

Breakfast at Tiffany's.
Breakfast at Tiffany's. | Source

10. An Epic & Romantic Kiss in the Rain

Cliché: Regardless of if they're fighting, serenading or kissing in the rain, some of the most epic movie moments take place in a dramatic downpour. Many iconic rom-coms feature a passionate kiss in the rain, often after an explosive argument or heartfelt proclamation of love. Some of the steamiest and sexiest scenes in film just so happen to be when it's pouring down rain.

Popular In: The Notebook, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Sweet Home Alabama, Dear John

© 2019 Rachel M Johnson


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